Status: Political prisoner
A democracy activist, widely-respected journalist, and father, Michel Kilo, age 67 years, was arrested by Syrian authorities in the days preceding May 15, 2006. He is known for his views in support of a home-grown opposition movement to the Assad regime, focusing primarily on opening up the political atmosphere to a variety of dissenting view points.
It is widely believed that Mr. Kilo was arrested in response to his support of the "Beirut-Damascus Declaration," a moderate statement calling for improved relations between the Syrian and Lebanese governments. According to scholar Joshua Landis, Mr. Kilo has defined the "true nationalist" as "one who wants the best for his country even if it means telling painful truths."
In an article dated December 2006, Mr. Kilo wrote to a Lebanese newspaper explaining the circumstances of his arrest. His claims confirm earlier suspicions that he was arrested for expressing support for the "Beirut-Damascus Declaration." Since his arrest, government supported newspapers have published stories about him claiming that he is part of an international conspiracy to thwart the Syrian government. They have also assassinated his character by claiming that he was bribed to support the Declaration. No evidence has been provided supporting either claim.
On October 10, 2006, authorities in Syria announced that they would release Mr. Kilo after nearly half a year of interrogations, but they later renigged on this promise and they continue to hold him in prison.
Mr. Kilo writes:
...there are those who want to take revenge on me because I am a symbol of the opposition, rational and socially accepted, and because I focused my efforts on succeeding in building a vision based on shared ground.
On January 23, 2007, the Syrian court system postponed Mr. Kilo's trial for the second time, moving it to February 19, 2007. As of January 23, Mr. Kilo has been held in prison for 255 days without facing a trial.
On March 26, 2007, Mr Kilo was charged in criminal court with "weakening national sentiment," "spreading false information" and "inciting religious and raical dissension." These charges are a response to his support of the Beirus-Damascus Declaration of May 2006.
Please help spread the word about Michel Kilo's continued unlawful detainment.
- Detained journalist charged with "weakening national sentiment" - [Reporters sans frontieres]
- Michel Kilo the Patriot - [Syria Comment]
- Michel Kilo Detained - [The Syria Monitor]
- 'The Story of My Arrest' - Michel Kilo - [Syria Comment]
- Open letter to President Assad condemning Kilo's detention - [Reporters sans frontieres]
- Syria detains writer in dissident crackdown - [Financial Times]
- After 255 days in pretrial detention, journalist Michel Kilo's trial is postponed again - [Reporters sans frontieres]